Guns Don’t Kill People (But it Certainly Makes it Easier)

 “Today we are dealing with something we never imagined, and is unimaginable.”

Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, Florida

Last night, the largest mass murder in United States history took place at Pulse nightclub, one of the premier gay nightclubs in Orlando, Florida. The attack, which the FBI says was ‘organized and well-prepared’, has left fifty dead and fifty three wounded. The attack started at 2:00 am, where the shooter entered the nightclub and began to open fire. He then took hostages, and it was not until approximately 5:00 am that the police took aggressive action and stormed the club in an attempt to free the hostages. They were successful. The perpetrator was killed in the ensuing shootout.

Here’s what we know about the shooter so far. His name was Omar Mateen. He was 29 years old. He had been married twice, and has a young son. He worked as a security guard, and he wanted to be a police officer, often hanging out with cops and going to shooting ranges with them. His first wife divorced him, stating that Omar was abusive and controlling. She mentioned that he’d occasionally denounce homosexuality when violent. She also mentioned that he may have been mentally unstable, with violent mood swings and unpredictable behavior. He wasn’t overly religious when they first met, but in an effort to straighten his life out, was slowly becoming a more devout Muslim.

He was on the FBI’s radar prior to the attacks, first for making inflammatory comments to coworkers, and then for having ties to a US radical who eventually became a suicide bomber in Syria. Even though he was under the eyes of the FBI, he still had two valid firearms licenses, a security officer’s license and a statewide firearms license. A few days prior to the shooting, he legally purchased the handgun and semi-automatic rifle he used to murder dozens of people. Before the attack, he made a call to 911, stating his allegiance to ISIS.

From all this information, we can try to piece together exactly what kind of attack this was. Yes, this was an attack on the LGBTQ community. Yes, you can call this a domestic terror attack. Yes, the person was mentally unstable.

Now, you could say this shows the LGBTQ community is still under threat and marginalized, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. You could say that radical Islamic terrorists are a security threat to the United States, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. You could say that this demonstrates a serious problem with how mental illness is looked at and dealt with by our society, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. Personally, I’m still shaking my head at one crucial detail; how was a man, who had issues with the LGBTQ community, who was known to associate with terrorists, who was known to have a violent past with his ex-wife, how on Earth did this person manage to walk into a gun store and legally purchase firearms?

The deadliest mass murder in the history of the United States. It’s impressive, in an incredibly twisted sort of way, that someone was able to kill that many people on their own. What’s even more impressive, is the laundry list of politicians, celebrities and talking heads that are shocked, I mean absolutely one hundred percent shocked, that another mass shooting took place in America. I’m not shocked. Truthfully, the only thing shocking about this is the number of killed and wounded. And the reason I’m not shocked is that a mass shooting takes place in the United States almost everyday.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to shootingtracker.com, considered by many to be the authority on mass shootings. Note that a mass shooting is defined by an incident where four or more people are shot, resulting in them being killed or wounded. Click on a year, and you are going to find that mass shootings in the US happen frequently. There was five mass shootings on June 11th, there was one on the 9th, another two on the 8th, one on the 6th, four mass shootings on the 5th, and one on the 4th. Before the shooting last night, there have been 14 mass shootings in the United States, with 19 dead and 44 wounded. In the month of June.

I’m not trying to downplay the attack last night. I’m not saying this wasn’t an attack on a vulnerable community, because it was. I’m not saying this man didn’t have ties to radical terrorists, because he did. And I’m not saying that this man wasn’t mentally ill, because anyone who decides to murder a large number of people probably is. What I’m saying is the only reason you are hearing about this, the only reason this is news is the number of dead. If the same attack took place and he had been less successful, killing three and wounding two for example, it wouldn’t have left the local Orlando news. This is news because it’s an outlier, an anomaly in a culture that accepts mass shootings as the norm.

This is a phenomenon unique to the United States gun culture. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the Western world. If you want to understand why it happened, just know this; a disturbed man with ties to terrorists and a hatred of homosexuality was able to walk into a store and purchase a handgun and a rifle. Because even though he was a homophobic, mentally unstable terrorist, he was an American citizen first. And we certainly wouldn’t want to trample on the right to bear arms in America.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Until they reform gun laws in the US, the mass shootings will continue.

 

Mr.Charlton Goes to the Market

I love going grocery shopping. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and there’s few things that make me happier than grabbing a bunch of fresh vegetables, heading to a butcher and talking shop before getting a cut of something, then popping over to the liquor store and grabbing a nice bottle of wine. If you go to the farmer’s market, you can accomplish all three.

Like any self absorbed hipster, I try and go to the farmer’s market as often as possible. The food is fresher. Everything is typically local, so I know that I’m helping out business’ in town. And there’s always a wide variety of food stuffs there, from produce, to meats, fresh honey, grains, and specialty stores. There’s also a bunch of people hawking their wares, from handcrafted wooden trinkets to odd jewellery. The only thing that makes people turn away from the old farmer’s market is the price. Here in Canada, you can expect to pay twice as much for a lot of the food on sale. Why is that?

There’s a couple of reasons. First, if the prices are high and they are still in business, that means that people are willing to pay those prices. That’s basic economics. If you can sell a cucumber for four dollars as opposed to the two dollars you’ll see at the grocery stores and people seem to have no problem paying the extra price, then you don’t have any incentive to lower your price.

Which brings us to our second point. There isn’t a whole pile of competition at the farmer’s market. The smaller the market, the less options you have, the price goes up. You might say to yourself “Well, Mr. Charlton, they’re competing with the major grocery chains, so the you would think that their prices would reflect that.” But the truth is, they are not competing with the major chains. The kind of people who shop at the farmer’s market are willing to pay the extra price, and there isn’t a lot of competition between vendors. All of the produce vendors might be selling carrots, but if only one of them is selling beets, then that vendor is going to have the beet market cornered.

The third reason is due to government subsidies. If you are a large farm producing a lot of food, then you can have access to a number of subsidies and grants, as well as insurance and other protection. The smaller farmers also can apply for this government money, but they certainly get a lot less, or none at all. Now this makes sense in some regards. Food is something that people need, and we need people to grow it. The number of farmers has been steadily decreasing for decades, while the demand for food goes up, because we have more people. If a farm is able to produce more foodstuff, then it should be entitled to more money. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the mega farm will produce a wider variety of foodstuffs. A farmer who has a massive farm that produces corn, for example, will have access to more money than a small farm that produces tomatoes, beets, potatoes, beans, whatever they happen to be growing. This creates a bit of an issue, as corn is a grain relatively devoid of nutrients. We now have a scenario where the nutrient cost for food from the small farm is actually lower, but the money still goes to the farm growing corn. As a money maker, it’s a safer bet to go with growing a mono-crop than it is to diversify. This mono-crop style of farming is bad both for the environment, as well as consumers.

The system is flawed. I was going to write down some simplified, bullshit solution like ‘Hey, if we did yada yada yada, the problem would be solved!” The truth is, there’s still a lot of political power that farmers have. The subsidy money isn’t going to dry up anytime soon. Remember, most of the grains and food grown end up in processed garbage that’s making you fat and slow. The hard pill to swallow is eating fresh vegetables and unprocessed meat is going to cost you.

So my actual advice is, if you love food, spend the extra couple of bucks and support local farms. The food tastes better and is better for you. But as long as consumers keep voting with their wallets, most of the food we harvest will go into making Kraft dinner, instead of carrots.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I also bought a dozen perogis for nine bucks. They were good, but they weren’t ‘Almost a dollar a pop’ good. Ain’t always a win at the farmer’s market.

 

Mr. Charlton’s Cell Phone Recpetion is Poor

More people today are connected to each other through a massive cellular network. Not only can you theoretically call billions of different people, you can access the internet through most providers. A human being alive today has more information at their disposal than the greatest scientists had thirty years ago. This leap will have such an impact on future generation it’s almost impossible to fathom. In your pocket, you have access to this wealth of information.

Not only do you have access, but you have a powerful machine, capable of creating written words, pictures, movies, art, music, and designs. What you have at your fingertips is a more powerful platform than what was available to people on their desktop personal computers fifteen years ago. The phone you have is more powerful than my sweet gaming rig was back in 2001. With all this raw computational capacity available to you on your person, people are now able to catalogue and transmit information with friends, family, and co-workers.

I’ll be honest, I hate having a cell phone on me.

You think with all the bells and whistles, Mr. Charlton would be on top of that like a fat kid on cake, but alas, I’ve never been a big fan of being constantly tethered to the network. It’s not that I think that people ‘don’t talk anymore’, because people have always had their faces pressed into newspapers and books the second the printing press was invented. I don’t think that people are getting dumber, although I used to hold that opinion. People are generally getting smarter across the world, and our unlimited access to information is making that possible.

I hate it because I no longer have privacy. I’m no longer out of reach. If someone wants to get a hold of me, whether it’s through Facebook, twitter, text message, email or, heaven forbid, an actual phone call, then I’m available. At all times. People get upset if my phone was off, or I leave it at home. “Where the hell were you, Mr. Charlton, Mars? Did you try to take a swim in the depths of the MAriana Trench? Did you decide to toss all of your belongings into a fire and join a bunch of Luddites out in the middle of nowhere?” These are the kind of questions I face should I choose to go without the stupid thing for a day.

Trust me, I relish every part of every day that I’m without my cellphone. It means that I might get lost. It means I have to physically go to a place to see if it’s open. I won’t know what’s on the menu at a restaurant before I get there. For the rare day that I get to do this, a sense of uncertainty, of chaos somes back into my life. It’s been a while since I haven’t had a cell phone.

I was a late adopter to the cell phone craze, I didn’t get one until 2007, I think. The phone I use now, a Samsung Galaxy SIII, was purchased back in 2012, which makes the phone only four years old. For some people, this is some sort of cardinal sin, not uppgarding once every year or two. I keep holding off, keep pushing it back because I honestly don’t know what I would do with a new phone.

“You’ll be able to take better pictures.” – I don’t take a bunch of photographs or movies with the one I currently have.

“You’ll be able to play cooler games!” – I can do that at home, on the couch, and sip wine as I’m doing it.

“You’ll need a new phone eventually, they keep upgrading the operating system for phones, and soon, you’ll have a telephone that is sluggish and decrepid.” – You know what? That ‘s actually already true. My phone is slower than a two-legged tortoise high on muscle relaxants.

Which brings me to my final point. I hate phones because the people who build them have created a brilliant market for themselves through planned obsolescence, which is fancy talk for “We’re going to bog down your phone eventually to the point where it’s no longer usuable, so that we can pressure you into buying a new phone.”

I can upgrade my computer, why the hell can’t I upgrade my phone? Why can’t I add more RAM, or change the camera, or choose the opertating system? Look at the IPhone, you can’t even open them up without a ton of work and voiding your warrenty.

That’s my beef. You can keep a car running for decades, you can upgrade your home computer if it’s a PC, and you could fix your old tube televisions. If you can’t modify or tinker with something you’ve purchased, then you don’t really own it.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m building into something bigger, this is just me ranting late at night.

 

Mr. Charlton’s Pop Culture Woes

I recently purchased a bunch of games for the Xbox recently, and I’ve having a ball playing them. I made the switch over to PC gaming a while ago, but I’m in possession of an Xbox console right now and sometimes sitting on the couch with a glass of wine beats the dusty office where my computer sits. One of the games I’m playing has me especially hooked. It’s a Role Playing Game set in the future with space as it’s backdrop. You’re the captain of a spy vessel, working as a clandestine operative for the galaxies highest authority. You uncover a plot by a rogue spy, who has aligned themselves with an evil artificial intelligence. Not only are you tasked with eliminating the threat, there’s a multitude of worlds to explore and missions from various people to complete. To top it off, there’s a steamy sex scene, that certainly caused headlines. Nine years ago.

I’m talking about the game Mass Effect, and yes, it’s a great game that’s aged well. Yes, I’ve sunk over twenty hours into it over the last month and a half. Yes, it totally feature a sex scene between your character and another character. And yes, it was a big deal years ago, earning both critical acclaim and journalistic scorn for showing naked bodies. Games at the time still carried more of the stigma of ‘Children’s toys’, but the people who believe that, well, they’re not in high of numbers as they used to be.

Now, you might be asking yourself why is Mr. Charlton talking about a game that’s almost a decade old. And that would be very astute of you. The reason I’m bringing it up here is that I’ve got nowhere else to bring it up. Over the last decade, I’ve been barraged by new media in the form of books, movies, games, music, you name it. Because of the burst of creativity from all sectors, I haven’t been able to keep up. That leaves me in a position where I’m no longer in the pop culture loop.

Pop culture is the culture that’s popular right now. It doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t have to have a meaning (in fact it rarely does), it needs to be hot. Without using Google, can you name some of the hit songs of 1996? What were the hot new games coming out? What movie was breaking the box office? What books were on the bestsellers list? There’s a couple of things that come to mind, but nothing concrete. When I think about 1996, I have a hard time remembering how old I was.

Getting back to my game, Mass Effect still holds up. It has an intriguing story, the graphics still look pretty good, the gameplay is solid. It was a good game then, and it’s a good game now. But because I’ve chosen to play the game at a much later date, the only thing that’s missing is the water cooler talk. I can’t bring this up with any of my friends or co-workers, people on the internet haven’t posted about it in several years. The only thing the game is lacking now is the ability to dissect it with other people. It’d be like trying to talk about a baseball game that happened five years ago. It may have been a great game, but it certainly isn’t fresh in the minds of the masses. That’s the downside.

Mr. Charlton tend to consume his media years later, when it’s lukewarm and you can tell if it’s aged well, and that’s the plus side. Something that was hot and tasty yesterday might still be great after a couple seconds in the microwave. Other media might be great when it’s piping hot and fresh, but when you take a look or listen a number of years later, you might come to the conclusion that it was made for consumption then, and now it’s stale and tasteless.

I usually have a lot to say, and I usually have a lot to say about what’s trending at the moment. Most of my posts deal with what’s going on at the moment, because it’s easy to write about something when opinions are everywhere. Consuming media years after it’s been created makes it tough to talk about what I’m reading or what I’m consuming. So should I get back in the game and start keeping up with a Game of Thrones? Or should I put my Netflix account to good use and re-watch Escape from New York?

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Let’s be honest people, everyone knows I have Escape from New York on DVD and watch it at least once a month.

When Your Appendix Attacks!

A friend of mine is getting out of surgery for appendicitis today. Everything is okay, but it did leave me wondering what the hell appendicitis is. Now, I’m no doctor, but I do have an internet connection and an hour to kill, so as far as I’m concerned, that puts me half way there.

First off, what exactly is the appendix? It’s an organ, in your body, like your brain or your heart. Unlike the brain or the heart, however, you can live without your appendix. For a long time, doctors and researchers thought the appendix was vestigial, which is a fancy word for pretty much useless. I’ll be frank, the appendix ain’t really pulling its weight in the whole ‘being a part of the body and contributing something’.

But, apparently it has a couple of uses, although certainly not vital. Back in 2007, some researchers at Duke University proposed the appendix might be a safe haven of sorts for the good bacteria in your body. See, your body runs on autopilot. You’re made up of billions of cells, all working together like some sort of kickass Power Ranger to pilot your body around so you can watch Game of Thrones and touch yourself inappropriately. Now, your body can’t always tell the good guys from the bad guys, and the bad guys can’t always differentiate between the locals and the tourists. Viruses and bad bacteria will attack good bacteria. If your body is being invaded by bad guys, then your white blood cells go nuts and start killing anything that isn’t part of you (sometimes those trigger happy white blood cells even start wacking your own body, then sprinkling crack on the victims). Basically, you body is an episode of ‘The Wire’, and the appendix is a safe house where good bacteria can lay low and play cards while the rest of your meat body wages war.

There was an even more recent discovery, where it was found the appendix was part of the lymphatic system. Due to my incredibly limited knowledge of biology and the human body, what I gathered was the appendix acts like traffic cop, making sure that waste gets disposed of properly. It also acts as a early warning system for disease, making sure the body’s defenses are coordinated properly. Even though this isn’t necessary, it’s handy to have.

But still, to continue to use the police analogy, the appendix is an old cop, who specialized in prohibition era law. Unfortunately, it’s not really needed anymore. The appendix hasn’t taken this news well, as occasionally it blocks up and explodes in your body.

Yes, you read that right. If your appendix becomes inflamed enough, it will actually burst, spewing pus and bile and whole bunch of other nasty stuff into your body. An appendectomy is a fairly common practice these days, but a hundred or so years ago, appendicitis could have easily been a death sentence.

Why would someone’s body decide to wage war against them? Your appendix gets a little fussy, then decides to lob a grenade in your direction. I have a theory. All the people I know who’ve had their appendix removed are pretty healthy people. They abstain from heavy alcohol use, they don’t smoke, they eat well, and get plenty of sleep. I, on the other hand, spent my twenties treating my body like a temple that I was constantly defacing. I smoked cigarettes and cigars, drank whiskey and beer, ate cheese stuffed with more cheese, and rarely slept. My appendix is terrified of me. It wouldn’t dare try to fuck with Mr. Charlton. My whole body wouldn’t even think twice about going against me. Sure, one day they might call in some heavy hitters, like cancers or a stroke, but it knows that I might just decide to dose myself in kerosene and start my birthday early.

Appendix_(PSF)

I don’t know, body, do you feel lucky today?

The people who get appendicitis are reasonable people. My body knows that it’s dealing with an unstable maniac. So if you want to stay healthy, make your body afraid. Hold your appendix hostage and wave a gun in its face. Tell your pancreas that if it even thinks about giving you cancer, you’ll throw a wrench in the plans by drinking bleach and committing seppuku. Don’t take any shit from your body, and trust me, you’ll soon find you can terrorize your body into behaving.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I treat my body a lot better these days. It now suffers from Stockholm syndrome.

p.s.s. Images taken from Wiki Commons

 

Brutal 6 Month Sentence for Stanford Rapist

In a stunning turn of events, Brock Turner, the three time All-American swimmer, has been sentenced with the harsh sentence of six months in prison and three years probation. The sentence for the affluent young white man doesn’t end there, as he will be registered as a sex offender. His Olympic dreams have been dashed, and he will be branded as a convicted felon for the rest of his life. All for a twenty minute mistake.

“It’s been really hard, you know?” in a statement issued by Brock. “You spend all this time in the pool, trying to work towards something, something bigger than yourself. You make one little mistake, like raping another human being beside a dumpster and, boom, there goes your Olympic aspirations.” Brock said, visibly shaken. “Honestly, had I known I was going to be caught, I would have never raped in the first place. Or, you know, at least finished a lot sooner. It’s a shame the combination of whiskey dick and years of stamina training dragged out the ordeal, because this whole messy situation could have been avoided had no one found me violently thrusting on top of a helpless stranger.”

His father released a statement.

“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, dear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain kinds of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hind some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for twenty minutes of action out of his twenty plus years of life.”

Although the 6 month sentence out of the possible sentence of 14 years for a convicted rapist is deemed too harsh by supporters, defense lawyers are flocking to the statement released by his father.

“He’s absolutely right,” says Lenny Plowers, a defense attorney from Salt Lake city, Utah “Only 20 minutes of rape? If you put that against the 20 years the kid has been alive, I mean, that’s like a fraction. Not even one percent. One of my clients has been accused of stabbing someone outside of a bar over a coke deal gone bad. How long was the knife actually in the victim? Hardly seconds. I don’t believe my client should have to go to a maximum security prison for violent crimes, as my client was violent for only a small amount of time during his life. From the ages of one to four, my client was a model citizen.”

Jenny McHorlis, a defense attorney from Wichita, Kansas, agrees wholeheartedly. “My client brutally shot an entire family to death in a home invasion gone awry. When you really think about it, he was only in the house for maybe five minutes. And the actual amount of time he spent pulling the trigger? Hardly a blip compared to the rest of the time he’s spent breathing and circulating blood as a human being ought to. Can we hold a man accountable for the few moments he went on a murderous rampage? I would hope not.”

Unfortunately for both Lenny and Jenny, their clients aren’t varsity Olympic prospects that hail from a prestigious school. That’s a key factor, says Chief Justice Alan Smootes. “I mean, if you’re some regular bum from the hood or something, then yeah, you should totally have the book thrown at you. But this kid was a really good swimmer, I mean, really good. I’m not entirely sure if he’d ever be on a Wheaties box, but at the very least, he could have done Cheerios or maybe a couple of local dealership commercials.

So far, there’s been little regard for the victim. One fraternity member of Kappa Theta Gamma stated “Well, how is this girl contributing to the community? I mean, she’s not good at swimming, and even if she was, who would care? Girls sports are lame.”

Brock had this to say as a closing statement. “Don’t get caught. If I’m going to rape someone again, you can be sure the amount of action I’m going to get will a lot less than twenty minutes.” Brave words.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Most of this is satire, obviously, but the statement from the father is word for word what he wrote.

p.s.s. The victim’s statement is here.

Why Do So Many Video Games Feature D-Day?

On June 6th, 1944, Operation Overload began as the largest seaborne invasion in the history of mankind took place on the beaches of Normandy France. The beach was divided into five different sectors; Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, and Sword beach.  It was a gamble and the stakes were high. Should this operation fail, the Allies may never had another chance to gain a foothold on Axis territory on the Western front. Allied casualties were in the thousands, with over 4,000 confirmed dead. Even though the Allies eventually succeeded, it was a slog. It wasn’t until June 12th, six days later, that all five beach heads were connected. The first day, June 6th, is now referred to as D-Day.

I’m not a historian, in fact, I know a few people who are. They’d be far more qualified to talk about the landing than I ever would be. But we are not talking about D-Day, we are going to talk about it’s virtual recreation in video games, and why it was so popular a decade ago.

To anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with video games, don’t worry, this article isn’t going to go into depth regarding the mechanics of video games. What you might find interesting is that during the late nineties and the early naughts, a genre of video game became increasingly popular. The first person shooter, a genre of game where you take direct control of an avatar, with a gun pointing forward, and shoot enemy opponents. This is still an incredibly popular genre, with some notable games including Halo, Call of Duty, Half-Life and Battlefield. A large percentage of these games took place during World War 2, and the games that used World War 2 as a backdrop often featured the landing on Normandy beach.

I’m not joking when I say a large number of games use WW2 as a backdrop; there are literally hundreds of games that take place during WW2. Hundreds of games where you play as the Allies, sent of missions to liberate Europe, killing Nazi soldiers to progress. You can walk, run, drive a jeep, drive a tank, fly a plane, take command of a massive battleship, there isn’t a vehicle used in the conflict that hasn’t been put in a video game. From the beach heads in France, to the Eastern Front in Russia, to the deserts of Northern Africa, and the Pacific battles of Pearl Harbor, Iwa Jima, and Midway; there is hardly any battle in the history of WW2 that has not been in a video game.

For a while, it seemed like every other game released was set in WW2. It’s easy to see why this was popular. The Nazi were an easy antagonist to portray, and it wasn’t difficult to shot them. The conflict saw a huge advancement in military technology, so there’s a lot of different guns, explosives and vehicle to arm your player with. And it was easy to create a sense of immersion, as these were real places you were playing in, in real battles.

Why was the landing of Normandy, D-Day, constantly featured in these games, so much so that it became a video game trope? Keep in mind that a quarter of the games that took place in WW2 had a level or a map with the Normandy landing. Out of all the battles that took place, the recreation of that particular battle was by far the most popular.

Honestly, when I started looking at timelines of when WW2 games became incredibly popular, you find that they really took off after the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’. After the movie was released in 1998, the game Medal of Honor was released a year later, although it’s important to note that it did not feature a D-Day landing level. After the success of Medal of Honor, the next decade saw a massive increase in the number of games based on WW2, with many of those game seeking to recreate the iconic and terrifying scene from Saving Private Ryan.

That’s my best guess, anyways. Truthfully, the first FPS (first person shooter) to be set in WW2 was ‘Wolfenstein 3D’, which was also one of the first FPS to see commercial success. It wasn’t until Medal of Honor was released that the genre took off. If you’re curious to see exactly how many game were released set in WW2, here’s a list on Wikipedia. Like I mentioned, literally hundreds.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. It’s weird to think that we ‘play’ through some of the greatest tragedies that have befallen humanity.

 

Cereal Killer

Word on the street is people are not eating cereal anymore. The sales have been slowly declining since 2000, and cereal producers are scrambling to try and win back a bunch of finicky customers. The last time Mr. Charlton here got grab nasty on a bowl of cereal was so long ago that I can’t remember what it was. Cocoa Pebbles? Something with chocolate in it, I would imagine. Why aren’t people eating cereal the way they used to? I’ve got some theories.

  1. People are going with healthier choices. The content of a lot of cereals happens to be grains and sugar. Now, while I can get behind the grains aspect, a number of people have straight up tossed out anything with gluten in it, and other grains like corn and quinoa are either nutritionally devoid or expensive. Toss in the fact cereal is often coated in sugar, and you can see why someone trying to eat healthy is going to skip it. Personally, I’m kicking back on some tasty lentils or beans in the morning. Great way to start the day.
  2. It’s inconvenient. Yes, you heard me, cereal is kind of a pain in the ass, at least for the newer generations. I’ve read articles claiming millennials are lazy, and can’t be bother to deal with the ‘mess’ that cereal causes. Those articles are a bunch of malarkey. You know why cereal is hassle? Because it’s full of milk. If you’re on the go, and you need to take something with you, or you’re commuting to work and you’re in the car, cereal’s now a no-go. People today want smoothies or granola bars, food that you can eat out of one hand. You have to be sitting down at a table to eat cereal. And if I’m going to be sitting down, it’s going to be the lentils and beans I mentioned earlier, or a mess of bacon and eggs.
  3. People really aren’t supposed to be drinking a whole pile of milk. It’s not just cereal on the decline, but milk has taken a hit in the last decade as well. What was once a corner stone of the food pyramid, milk is considered less and less valuable by nutritionists. The much toted calcium that milk provides can be found in less fatty vegetables. Not to mention that naturally, human beings become generally lactose intolerant after growing into adulthood.
  4. Breakfast is a lousy meal. Out of all the meals of the day, breakfast is by far the worst. Lunch rules supreme by far, as I’ve mentioned in the past. They say it’s the most important meal of the day, but if an entire meal can be replaced by a shake or a granola bar, then how important is it really?

A number of cereal giants, like Kellogg’s and Post, have started branching out into other sectors, like shakes and whole grain cereals. There’s also some bizarre marketing ploys popping up, like cereal that’s supposed to improve your sex life. Which just goes to show you that they will use sex to sell anything.

It’s also worth noting even though cereal consumption is declining, a strange new trend has been popping up in the culinary world, and that’s restaurants dedicated to selling you bowls of cereal. I wish I were making this up. But all over The United States and Britain, cafes that deal primarily in bowls of sugary cereal are becoming popular. For the absolute life of me, I cannot fathom why anyone in their right state of mind would be willing to drop a bunch of money for someone to make you a bowl of cereal. It would boggle my brain that anyone would actually go to this place more than once, just so they could say they went. I’m honestly struggling with this right now.

“Well, we could do brunch at this new place, they make an amazing blue cheese and broccoli omelet.”

“Nah, I’ve got to take you to my favorite place. They’ve got killer cereal.”

“… Cereal?”

“Yeah man, their cereal selection is amazing. Honey Combs, Raisin Bran, Frosted Flakes. You name it, they have it.”

“… I might have to go take a rain check on that one, but if I’m ever interested in not eating adult food, I’ll take you up on it.”

Look, I’m not against cereal, my old man used to love his Raisin Bran. But I get why the popularity is waning, even if trendy cereal bars are opening up. Because if you’re going to sit down and enjoy something, take the extra five minutes and make a damn omelet.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Seriously, if you have the time, try my blue cheese and broccoli omelet. Perfect if you have some blue cheese on hand and have some leftover broccoli from the night before.

The Prescription is Death

Right now, the lawmakers in Canada are debating over a controversial bill, bill C-14 regarding Doctor-assisted suicide. This is the same bill causing the ruckus a few weeks ago, where the Prime Minister of Canada got physical and started throwing elbows. Now the bill is being stalled, and the June 6th deadline, which is two days from the writing of this post, will more than likely be delayed.

A number of groups are up in arms over what they call ‘Legalized Murder’. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanaisia, and the grassroots organization Living with Dignity organized a protest and rally on Parliament Hill, and attracted hundreds of protesters. There were speakers from the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice and the Catholic Women’s League. A number of Senators spoke to the crowd as well. On the other side, you have the organization Dying With Dignity, who want to allow people the choice to be able to end their own lives on their terms, rather than rot away in a hospital bed.

Should people be allowed to choose how they die? Or is that choice left to their physicians and loved ones?

That’s a terribly difficult question to answer. Some diagnosis’ are terminal. Medical science has come a long way, but there are still many conditions, cancers, and diseases that are not curable. If given one of these death sentences, would you want to stay in a hospital, waiting for the inevitable moment of your passing. Do you want to be pumped full of drugs, hardly lucid and in incredible pain? Even though there was no chance, no hope for recovery?

On the other side, what if a cure was found the next day? What if some miracle happened, and you suddenly pulled through? What if the diagnosis was incorrect? What would happen if the terminal diagnosis made you suicidal, just wanting to relieve you of the stress of having the hour of your death handed to you?

Law is complicated and often subjective. If you are curious as to why this bill has been stalled, the last two paragraphs have your answer. There is a lot of grey area concerning this bill, and even though I believe it will eventually be passed, I’m almost positive they won’t meet the June 6th deadline.

Here’s what I know about myself. I’ve seen a number of people die in hospitals. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals. Hospitals are wonderful places to be if there’s a chance of recovery. They are the worst place to be if you aren’t. Hospitals are sterile environments. They smell unnatural. They’re boring. The food may be nutritious, but it tastes lousy. I’ve played a ridiculous amount of cards around a mall table, waiting for time to pass. I’ve seen people wilt away from cancer. I’ve seen people hooked up to every available machine. I’ve seen people in incredible amounts of pain, being kept alive. I’ve seen people hopped on so much morphine that they couldn’t hold their heads up.

Personally, if I had a choice, if I had to choose between four months of agonizing treatment, or a shot in the arm followed by death, I’d choose the latter. Even though I’m a fairly young man still, I’ve lived enough to lack any regrets. I don’t need to see the Eiffel tower, swim with dolphins, or cross off a massive bucket list. I’m content with the life I’ve led so far, and if it got snuffed out tomorrow, then that was the hand that I was dealt. My friends and family on the other hand would probably have other things to say.

Here’s the kicker. We don’t often keep people alive because they are going to get better, or a miracle cure is just around the corner, or that it’s in the person’s best interest. We keep them alive because the people that love them have a difficult time of letting go, of accepting their death. We want to wish that someone, tomorrow, that people will go from a sickly yellow to a healthy colour, that they’ll gain thirty pounds, that they’ll spring from their beds and start dancing around the room.

I don’t believe in killing people. I believe in choice. I believe this body I inhabit is mine, and I get to do what I want with it. And if that means cashing in my chips and walking away from the table, rather than staying until the end and losing everything, I want to cash in my chips.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. If I ever do buy the farm, however it happens, know this. I want a big target board, and I mean big, setup. And with a circus cannon, people can take turns firing my corpse into the target board. Bulls-eye gets a prize.

Thailand’s Tiger Temple Caught in Trafficking Scandal

Recently, I wrote about the tragedy of Harambe, the gorilla shot in the Cincinnati zoo. In situations like these, when someone has to make a tough call, there’s always a spattering of outrage. The armchair warriors will come out in droves, to explain how the issue was mishandled, and how the zoo should have reacted. Even though there was a beautiful animal that died as a result, I find it hard to point a finger at someone.

Well, sometimes you can actually point a finger at a person or two.

The Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno if that rolls off the tongue easier, was originally founded in 1994 as a wildlife preserve in Thailand. Tourists are charged 600 Baht (about $22 Canadian) to get in and walk among the tigers. What was once a preserve has become perverse, as the temple was recently shut down to due allegations of tiger smuggling. Twenty-two men, three of whom are Buddhist monks, have been charged with trafficking animals. They were caught fleeing with a truck full of tiger’s skin. Forty dead cubs were found frozen in the temple, some having been frozen five years ago. Another thirty cubs were found preserved in jars of formaldehyde. Also found in the temple were skins and teeth and other various parts.

This wasn’t a conservation effort to take care of tigers, it was a cruel petting zoo for tourists for wanted to snap a picture with a tiger. The tigers were chained so close to the ground they could hardly stand. Some of them had been both declawed and defanged. In even more extreme cases, some of the tigers had their tendons removed, so they couldn’t swipe at people or even sprint. Tiger cubs were constantly overfed, because tourists paid good money to get a picture nursing a cub. This temple didn’t have money to create a proper environment for the tigers, but it certainly had enough money to perform elective surgery on the animals. Not to mention that the tigers were allowed to breed, which with a gene pool this size caused a number of tigers to be blind and deaf.

tiger-temple-cubs

Majestic.

When did this animal sanctuary turn into a horror show? An organization called the Care for the Wild international has been investing the temple for over a decade. They submitted a report the temple was smuggling tigers in and out a tiger farm in Laos. Based on this report, a coalition of 39 conservation groups, including the Humane Society International, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, World Animal Protection, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, sent a letter to the director general of National parks in Thailand, urging the director to close the facility. The letter stated that the temple lacked the facilities, the training, the skills, or even the desire to look after the animals properly.

Reports and investigations continued, and the pressure has been ramped up in May 2016. Now police and wildlife official are working to remove all of the living tigers from the temple. The tiger torture camp is shutting down.

Why do places like these continue to operate, where animals live in degrading conditions and tortured? Two things; Tiger Selfies and Tiger Balm.

Tiger-selfie

Only one animal here is living life to the fullest

In this modern day of one-upmanship on social media, people clamour to ‘Carpe Diem’, seizing more of the day than their virtual neighbors. And what could be a more life affirming, spiritual change than feeding a baby tiger, or getting a picture with a massive tiger head on your lap? Look at some of the reviews on Trip Advisor regarding the temple. Here’s some highlights.

  • “You can hold and feed baby tigers!”
  • “I realized my dream”
  • “Great place to see tigers up close but sad to see them chained”
  • “Best vacation activity I’ve EVER had!”
  • “Yuk.”

Just like Harambe the gorilla, this is another example of people not really understanding animals. With Harambe, people were forgetting that this was a wild, massive, unpredictable, powerful animal that could have easily harmed the child. With the case of the tiger temple, people think a wild, massive, unpredictable, powerful animal could easily be tamed and chained without the use of sedatives and elective surgery.

The other issue is with the cultural problem in much of Eastern Asia, where bizarre concoctions of endangered animals seem to rejuvenate and treat ailments, like sore throats, thyroid problems, and masculinity issues. Education seems to be changing that, but there still lies a pile of old people who think that ground up rhinoceros horn will cure erectile disfunction.

I’m glad this place has been shut down, and you should too. But as long as there’s money to be made, there will always be someone willing to make a buck, no matter the cost.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Yes, I understand that Tiger Balm contains no tigers. I was trying to be clever.

p.s.s. Factory meat isn’t a whole lot better in regards to animal treatment. Buy from the farmer’s market. Grass-fed, happy cows taste better.

p.s.s.s. All photos taken from Twitter accounts.